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Morals are dependent on context.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/20/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 month ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 209 times Debate No: 94871
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
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Are morals not dependent on context?

I believe not; I believe morals are dependent on the contexts to which they apply.

Please, allow me to define and explain a situation. For example, say that you were caught stealing from someone, where stealing is defined as wrong in someone's morality. Also, you were caught stealing because you needed a medicine for a dying child, and the setting is the legal system. Take it that the owner of said medicine is unwilling to negotiate a cheaper price for you, that you can steal the medicine without getting caught, and that there is no other way to get the medicine for the child that will otherwise die without it.

If the owner can, in fact, withstand the theft without having died or having any business associates die, then how does this common moral stand, that stealing is wrong? First of all, in the legal system, "stealing" is defined as taking another person's property without permission or right and without intending to return it. If the term "stealing" is defined, as such, within the context of the legal system, where the legal system describes what is right in its bounds as a single context, i.e. what is legal, then there must be a higher or more general context in which stealing may either be right or wrong within the legal system. That is, taking from someone else that which is their own, rightful, property may not be their true property in a higher context, like that which is reality at large. As such, whether stealing is right or wrong is dependent on context.

Further, this is like comparing two statements, one from a child and another from an adult, respectively:

1. The cat took from the dog and therefore stole, which wasn't right.
2. The cat took from the dog of which a legal system said was rightfully their property and therefore stole, but in a higher context such was not the dog's property; there was, therefore, nothing immoral about the cat stealing from the dog.

Forthrightly, in the higher context, the cat did not actually steal. In the lower context, however, the cat did steal. Back to the original example of a child dying without a medicine, there is the context of global, unified utility between members of humanity. That is, humanity cooperates with each other, as all men are created equal, to make the world a better place to live. There is, as such, a utility parameter when it comes to making decisions on what is right or wrong and on the contexts of morals. The two decisions that can be made in the first example is one, to steal, and the other, not to steal.

Simply, stealing would save the child's life, over the owner of the medicine losing a hundred dollars in profit (for example). Not stealing would result in the death of a child over a hundred dollars. The context of utility states that it would be, in such a context, therefore, correct to steal in the lower context, which is the legal system.

Overall, the question of whether or not stealing was right or wrong in the example's setting depended on the context at hand, so morals depend on the context to which they apply.


Because the child is going to die it justifies stealing the medicine.. No it does not. To suggest the theft was the fault of the victim of the theft because he wouldn't lower the price is also wrong

Lets look at a couple of likely scenarios. One the price was set to cover the costs of production and allow for a reasonable profit. Remember for every medication which makes it to market there are dozens which don't. All cost money in research and development. Second there could well be another child in desperate need of the medication whose guardians are able and willing to pay for it but now won't be able to get it because of the theft. Or another variation on it is they and others won't be able to benefit from the life saving medication because the price has had to be raised to cover the losses caused by the theft. As a result they can no longer afford it and unlike the thief they go about things honestly
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for your response. I shall now make an animadversion.

Errors from the con:

- The con has not sufficiently defined what the con calls a "reasonable profit".

- "Because the child is going to die it justifies stealing the medicine," - con. Actually, there is more to the stated context than that, including the fact that there is no other way to obtain the medicine, that the relevant "business associates" and the relevant business owner will not die as a result of the theft, that the thief won't be caught, and the rest.

A reasonable profit can be a profit reasonable for the continuation of production, for a system reliant on such a medication (like research and development), its owner, or anyone, i.e. anyone connected to it. As such, if the profit is reasonable and for the owner, there exists that medicine for profit unto the owner required for continuing the life of that owner, which may be more necessary than saving the child's life.

As everyone is created equal, equal in the sense that we are all people, everyone deserves the same life resources. Also, since everyone should be trying to cooperate and to help each other make the world a better place to live, everyone's resources belong to each individual, in what is a "nature-made" kind of way.

It should also be stressed that such thefts damage the economy, and they really do, but only to an extent. As such, they "hurt" the lives of the many. The big point is, however, how I defined "business associates" as everyone in the economy, besides the dying child, which isn't much of an associate to the business due to the owner's noncooperation with self-evident fact.

Therefore, no one is dying but the child. By facilitative virtue of what enables my argument's setting, the setting is being supported, by (e.g.) how the Earth keeps spinning and how life continues to evolve.

Arguing that the U.S. Legal system, for example, perfectly supports its people in terms of freedom would be an error. First of all, its businesses and its government treats everyone, on average, as having the same intellectual authority and needs in one of its products or services (that, if you don't have enough money for it, you won't get it, you don't need it). If certain people, more reliant on certain products, cannot afford those products, they are simply denied them. Therefore, such a government is doing more than just "treating everyone as equally important because of their equality". This also has the effect of treating individual mental-tool sets (high and low) to what's average, which incapacitates the U.S. from making the best decisions, like in voting for governmental officials.


At the start of your opening argument you start out asking the question 'Are morals not dependent on context?' The wording of the question with the deliberate use of a negative 'not' reveals a contradictory intent. An assumption which is confirmed in the next two clauses of your opening argument. In the first you state 'I believe not' Thus confirming what appears on the surface to be what you are stating in the question. But the very next part completely contradicts it which when one looks closely can be found in the hidden spaces in your opening question but also confirms your headline.

Someone steals medicine. That's wrong but it was to save a child's life which is good. So it makes it right. Not sure which way to paradox should go because it involves unstated facts and unknown criteria and therefore anything inferred from it must be suspect.
Debate Round No. 2


I am sorry; I may have stirred some confusion for you with regard to language; that is, additional information may have been necessary like this: "I believe not [that morals are not dependent on context]; I believe morals are dependent on the contexts to which they apply". How I wrote that I guess was a mistake because I started out with the opposite-sounding argument as you say"the same argument semantically, however"at first and then edited things around.

Also, you may not have understood my first example, but I am just trying to elicit some understanding that some morals may be right (to you) even as they are wrong (to others) in terms of contexts; morals are contextual dependencies regarding the actual and the absurd.

For example, a moral like that "it is wrong to have green hair in apartments" depends on the context. In a certain apartment, you may be discriminated against and get hurt by having green hair, but that may not apply in every possible apartment, and, this time, I need you to pretend that there are no other factors involved and that you are either green-haired or not where you can't change the context. Confusing a specific context for a general context, even general reality, can be very dangerous.

As for another example, a moral like that "it is right to draw your eyes big when drawing" only applies to specific contexts. All in all, confusing something like "it is right to kill" in self-defense with "it is right to kill" in general murder is wrong.

An interesting question that may be asked, however, is: "with what moral or set of morals am I deriving conclusions on the contexts of morals; is it or are they independent with respect to context?". The answer to that question is a self-reliant, self-fulfilling morality-context that explains itself and is therefore self-evident. In other words, it is a context that depends on itself through a special type of duality-based dual self-inclusion (which differs from set-theoretic self-inclusion).

Forthrightly, explaining such dual self-inclusion would take some time, but it is doable. Essentially, my highest-context moral"the dual self-inclusion"is like this: love everyone, including yourself, if you choose to, and make the world a better place for everyone if you can and if you choose to because of your love. Personally, I chose such a life for no other reason but itself.

Again, I apologize for what was an accident in the creation of a confusion factor.


I am going to pass to the next round
Debate Round No. 3


The con has failed to provide a sufficient argument against my claim that morals are dependent on context.

I finish my argument by creating an animadversion of an appeal to stone by the con. As such, there has been no compelling argument against my claim that morals are dependent on the contexts to which they apply. That is, the con has failed in explaining their self in things like what a "reasonable profit" means and such, and other arguments against mine consist of things that were then explained, by me.

Dismissing my argument without reason or proof of why is an appeal to stone. For final analysis of my argument, I shall define some terms according to the formal English dictionary. A moral is a principle or habit with respect to right or wrong conduct. Right conduct typically means being "good" to yourself and others, being sound, valid, beneficial, well-behaved, agreeable, and pleasant.

For the fact that the morals I have stated are, in fact, dependent on their applicable contexts to be valid morals, i.e. in my standard definition of what a moral is, I have cultivated examples upon which I can say there is some proof of my claim that morals are dependent on the context to which they apply.

To clarify a previous example:

Murder means to kill without good purpose; to kill means to put to death; and killing in self-defense means to kill for defense when someone is attempting to murder you, therefore in good purpose. Without any other factors involved, "kill" can be determined as either a right or wrong behavior, it depends on the [situation] or context to be [right or wrong].

The point of my argument is to point out to people who base their lives on morality that many common morals are not always moral, like the moral: "stealing is wrong".


Through elaborate and extensive explanations Pro comes to one conclusion. There are no morals or if there are morals they exist only to justify or excuse one's actions and can't be taken seriously and thereby one can't be bound to them.

Pro offers several examples of how his definition of morals would apply. A definition which effectively denies morals exist as a core principle which binds us to a code of conduct. Lets take killing, intentional killing, even accidental killing done as a result of gross negligence, recklessness, and/or deliberate indifference is widely seen as immoral. The standard is absolute. "Thou Shall Not Kill" It's not 'thou may choose not to kill' or 'thou should not kill' it's 'thou shall not kill'. To put it simply killing is not an option depending on the circumstances. There can be no moral justification for killing. It is always immoral.

Yes there are times when immoral acts like killing can be explained as justified by the circumstance. But the act itself is still immoral. Does it make the perpetrator immoral? No not necessarily. A woman in good conscience will get an abortion. While the act of having the abortion is immoral the woman is not.

Morals are not defined by expedience which is dependent on circumstances but are from a base of absolute beliefs which can't be disregarded when convenient
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by DrSenelCoolidge 1 month ago
You say morals are not dependent on context, but what stops a certain behavior from being classified as a moral? For example, "do not steal" is a typical moral or principle of right conduct. It is a value, as you say, but it is also a behavior. Further, theft is an action or behavior. The morality, or goodness, of certain actions are dependent on the contexts to which they apply, for sure. Nonetheless, you say that morals are not dependent on context. A moral is defined as a principle, as such, and therefore is applicable to contextual distinction. A "value", as you have it, differs from other moralities by being accepted without proof.

A value or a moral: an importance, and, with respect to morals, a distinction between right and wrong behavior.

"Morality of certain actions": the distinction between right or wrong in an argument.

The problem, however, is that the term "moral" is what distinguishes the right, and you are saying that moral actions are set apart from morals.

A moral action: a right behavior, dependent on context.

A moral: a right behavior.

This is absurd. You are saying that morals, dependent on the individual, should be accepted without reason. This is an appeal to stone. "Do not steal" is most certainly dependent on context, and should never be accepted as a moral. There is no reason, and, without a reason, you are being unreasonable. I think this may mean, however, that I have no values except that moral which is dependent on its own context for being right.
Posted by Samcoder1 2 months ago
Morals are not dependent on context, however the morality of certain actions certainly is. For example the moral that one must always seek to improve conscious well being is in no ways contextual. It is always relevant, the only question is whether some actions exercise this moral better than other.

Theft in many contexts is not moral, as it results in the suffering of the person who was robbed. However theft in order to feed oneself is entirely moral as the suffering caused by not eating is far greater than the suffering caused by having one fewer apples in your basket.

Morals however are values, and values are by no means contextual.
Posted by DrSenelCoolidge 2 months ago
If I am sentient, which means I am totally productive, like any real person, there is no such context; it is inoperative.
Posted by vi_spex 2 months ago
i knew there was a right context for murdering you savagely after torturing you half to death.. Friday evening, friday evening
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